Monday, October 31, 2011


My non-fiction proposal I worked on last week was Raptured or something. I worked on it again this evening between answering the door for little super heroes. Almost back to where I was on Thursday.


Sunday, October 30, 2011


My Theology professor, Dr. William Hendricks, told us that Manifestation is, “God coming into time and space to give normative witness to himself and his purpose.” That's Theologian talk for, "God interacts with mankind any way He wants to." Most people see God's revelation to man as simply the Divine being--or an angelic stand-in--appearing to people in their house or maybe in dreams. God is so much more creative than that. God has bombarded the human race with a myriad of revelations. He has used vehicles from every class of thing that exists.
1.  Inanimate objects:  Lilies of the field, the star in the East.
2.  Spiritual beings:      Angels
3.  Theophanies:         Personal appearances
4.  Animals:                 Balaam’s ass
5.  Humans:                 From Adam on
6.  Written language:   Stone tablets, leather and papyrus scrolls
7.  God, the Spirit:       Brooding on the surface of the water, resting on & dwelling in
8.  INCARNATION: Which is Different from theophany: The Incarnation of God-in-Christ is Written in red, bold, italic, and underlined CAPITOL letters.

The defining characteristics of Divine revelation include the facts that they,
1.  Appear in the Historical records of mankind
2.  In every case they must be correctly Interpreted
3.  They are Holy; Separated, set apart, different from me and you.
4.  Revelation's purpose is always Redemptive: It seeks to establish redemptive
     relationships with men and women.
5.  It is Positively ethical;  moral, rather than “im” or  a-moral
6.  It is Limited: God doesn’t tell us everything we would like to know

One last thing about Divine revelation. Christians believe that Jesus, the Messiah, is, if not the last revelation to be given, certainly is the Highest revelation. Jesus is not "divine", with a lower case "d". He is not god junior-grade. He is not a good, holy man. Christianity proclaimes with gauche bluntness, that Jesus is God Himself. God became one of us to redeem the lost and fallen world.Jesus is the Last and Highest revelation of God, Creator of the world.

Want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I just bought a bag of dog food for our four-legged dust mop. At the checkout counter I noticed a quality assurance statement on the bag. Near the top, emblazoned across the package were the words: "Every bite tastes homemade."

...How am I supposed to test that statement?

Do they expect me to eat some, just to be sure? Maybe they're addle-pated PETA types, thinking this assurance is somehow information MacArthur the Cocker Spaniel is dying to know. This is the same dog who would gladly stuff his snout into the rotting carcass of a five-day-dead skunk. I don't think he cares.

No, I think the marketing copy writer thinks I'm stupid. I'm expected to be impressed with this knowledge, choosing their brand over the competitor.

What am I supposed to do? Mount a protest? refuse to buy their product? Climb up on the cash register counter and denounce the dog food maker?

Yeah, it's not that important to me. Next time I'll avert my eyes and leave it to the PETA types.


Mission Impossible Squirrel

Friday, October 28, 2011


There is a scene in Ghostbusters where the fellas find themselves in jail, awaiting judgment. Winston, frustrated with Dr. Egon's dispassionate, academic approach to their predicament, shouts, "Hold it. We're supposed to tell the mayor that some moldy Babylonian god is here to start tearing up the city?"
          "Sumerian, not Babylonian." is Egon's answer.
          "Yeah," Peter Venkman chimes in, "big difference."
          Its a humorous moment because most people in the audience would agree with Winston and Venkman; who cares?

The Pedant cares. Pedants get a bad rap because of their insistence on distinguishing between differences in details. If you don't have any interest in ancient Sumer or Babylon you might get annoyed at such finicky, hair-splitting. Its not worth your time. The pedant is eternally surprised by this attitude. A pedantic approach to information is not nit-picking, its another way of saying "accurate."

The greatest disappointment in my life occurred in my thirties when I discovered that I am not a detail person. You can tell how much of a detail person I'm not by how long it took me to realize it. Honest, I thought I was. But it's true. I look at a forest and see not trees, but huge green thing. As a writer, this is a handicap. I don't notice things like whether or not my indent spaces are consistent. My grammar lacks... well, grammar. And thank God for spellcheck.

I am a writer. That means I work to overcome my crushing disadvantage. I love research, its the whole words-on-paper thing I struggle with. Yet, struggle I do because write I must. I don't like it, as some writers profess. I like having it done. No, I write because I have ideas and concepts to tell others. The written word is the most efficient way to communicate ideas since the invention of the campfire.

So, for me, writing is not always a pleasure. Often, its the mental equivalent of ditch-digging. Very well. That is a price I am willing to pay.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


In Follow Through, I made myself accountable to you, the reader. So I raise my right keyboard and state: I worked on my book proposal today.


Mrs. Chapman, my fifth-grade teacher, had a worry. My report card carried a dire warning; "Donny can't read." My mom laughed. She knew I stayed up late every night reading my way through her collection of Laura Lee Hope's "Bobbsey Twins."

Mrs. Chapman didn't understand that I simply disliked reading aloud to the class. I flubbed it on purpose. Like a fool, I hoped she'd call on someone else. That was a childish response to a life challenge. It didn't work, either. She kept calling on me, hoping repetition would improve my reading. We finally came to terms when I fessed up to my duplicity.

Later that year, Mrs. Chapman asked me to create a bulletin board promoting reading. My award-winning, butcher paper design depicted an island, ocean, Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria. The Banner read, "Sail Into the New World of Books." Looking back, nearly fifty years hence, I'm quite proud of that board.

Laura Lee Hope taught me the combination of a book and my imagination were far better than any movie, and streets ahead of television. Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy rivaled Tolkien's books, it did not surpass them.

For years I thought of myself as a bibliophile--a lover of books. That image was shattered by a college professor who described himself as a bibliopath. Ooooo... I like that. My wife usually introduces me to her class as, "This is my husband, Mr. Patterson. He always has a book with him."

Thing is, writers read. They read for pleasure. They read for instruction. A writer enjoys reading, but every book is also continuing education in how--or how not--to write. My reading diet is varied, but my first love is always action and adventure. Fennimore Cooper once complained about the quality of a novel he was reading. His wife challenged him to write a better one. He did, catapulting himself into the American literary firmament. I came upon that naturally. I write what I desire to read.

This is an important point, because people often show up to our writers group who don't read. That's like a scholar who doesn't study, or a preacher who won't pray. It's oxymoronic. If you don't know the genre through personal reading you cannot write the genre without divine inspiration. To date, the Almighty has shown little interest in fiction. Don't take refuge in non-fiction, either, that list of God-breathed authors is short. You're not on it.

Want to write? Read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A LOVE OF READING Guest Post by R.P. Nettelhorst

My office is a converted spare bedroom which faces the front of my house. In it is a large, L shaped desk which I designed and built myself. On three of the walls and in the now doorless closet are floor to ceiling bookcases, likewise built myself from the same oak plywood. Upon those shelves are books, which fill up every inch of the shelving, arranged in less order now than they were sixteen years ago thanks to the children that have inexplicably entered my life. As infants, and then as toddlers, they took great delight in pulling the books off the shelves and making stacks out of them. As a consequence, they’ve never quite been returned to their proper places; additionally, over the years, more and more books have accumulated, seemingly on a weekly basis. My Kindle has staunched the flow of physical books to some extent, which is just as well since there are frankly no more places in my office to put them, and the floor to ceiling bookcase on one wall of my family room is likewise full. I’ve contemplated building more bookcases, but it’s getting difficult to find empty wall space left to fill and really, my wife and kids don’t want to get rid of the television and frankly, I rather like it on occasion, too.

When people visit my home for the first time, they inevitably comment upon the floor to ceiling wall of books in the family room. When they discover even more books in my office, they eventually get around to the question, which always puzzles me to some extent: “have you read all those books?”

Given that the average American reads but one book a year—and sometimes not even that many—the over three thousand volumes that fill my home may seem a daunting impossibility for one person to consume. But yes, I have read them all—except for the dictionaries and the encyclopedias. The books are not just decorations that we set up on our walls because we couldn’t think of anything else to place there.

Reading all those books was not done on one lazy Sunday afternoon, any more than writing a book can be done in one day, either. The author Anne Lamott has a book entitled Bird by Bird in which she talks about what goes into being an author. In it, she relates the story of a bird watcher who has an enormous lifetime list of the birds he has seen. When queried on how he managed to see all those birds, his answer was simply that he did it, “bird by bird.” Lamott says that writing a book is done the same way, bird by bird—or sentence by sentence. It’s a matter of desire and discipline: of putting in the time each work day, until you finally arrive at the end.

Likewise, reading three thousand books in half a century is not such a daunting a task. Certainly if you read but one book a year, then you’ll have made but a small bite in such a stack. But I’m one of those people who reads two or three books a week, sometimes more. In half a century of life, I’ve easily surpassed the three thousand book mark.

Reading is not drudgery. It is not like finishing the round of machines at the gym three times a week, or vacuuming the carpet or mowing the lawn. Instead, reading, at least for me, is like watching a movie, playing a video game, or staring at the TV: a lot of fun and incredibly easy. It’s something I want to do with all my spare moments. When I have no time for hobbies, I still manage to find time to read. When I haven’t the time for the television shows I’ve recorded on my TiVo, I still find time to read. In fact, I’ve frequently chosen to read a book instead of watching TV. I usually enjoy it more.

The three thousand books in my house are simply a symptom of the illness with which I suffer: an inordinate fondness for the written word. Ever since I learned to read, I’ve loved it and prefer it to all other forms of entertainment. As a boy, I often chose to stay inside with my nose in a book instead of going outside in the sun to play.

Going outside, going to the gym, running a 5K—I do enjoy those things. But they all require a conscious effort and to me feel more like work than real fun. Only reading comes naturally and easily to me, so much so that visitors to my house are not alone in thinking me a bit strange. To this day my in-laws still won’t buy me books for Christmas or my birthday. They think I have too many already.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011



The Antelope Valley lies one hundred miles east of the Pacific Ocean, in California's high desert. We are on the receiving end of WIND, with a capitol W.I.N.D. Logic might suggest that one-hundred miles of coastal mountains and valleys ought to dissipate the wind's power. Au contraire; it simply skips over that mass, building up a running start before it cascades onto the desert.

We once had a NASA engineer from Houston here on temporary duty. Soon after arrival he remarked, "Man, down along the Gulf Coast we give these things names."

So today I went for a walk on the California aqueduct overlooking the valley. My first clue for what awaited me should have been the cold, west wind that assaulted me as I opened the front door. My second clue came in the form of the rodeo-bronc ride my Ford gave going up the hill. When I emerged from the car the wind slammed my door open with a mighty whoosh and whang.

Dedicated, health-wise idiot that I am, I got out anyway. I planned to walk for thirty minutes, then turn and walk back for a good hour's exercise. Ha. Good one. After five minutes of walking crabwise to a hurricane I considered turning back. I'm not kidding, the wind had to be rushing past at seventy miles-per-hour. I kept getting pushed sideways across the road surface. I had to lean into the force of the wind to keep upright.

Long story short, I halved the outward bound time to fifteen minutes. Only a thirty minute walk, sure; but I worked for that thirty minutes.


Monday, October 24, 2011


Long ago, I discovered that being at a retreat is much more exciting that coming home from a retreat.

At the retreat you are immersed in the people and program. Once you return home, real life takes precedence. The urgent demands of daily life tend to drown out the excitement of the mountain top. It is quite normal for the great experience to quickly fade into background static.

I have found that there is a way to hold on to that cozy campfire glow. It takes
Follow Through. By that, I mean you must work on what you learned. Merely basking in pleasant memories is a sure path to losing the glow.

For example, I took two days to drive home from my writers retreat in Mew Mexico. I returned Saturday and immediately faced the onslaught of urgent real life I'd put off for a week. My family expected some attention. My congregation desired that their pastor show up and preach on Sunday. My body begged for a bit of sleep. Very well. These are not unreasonable wishes. However, Monday soon jumped up and demanded attention as well. The phone rang, my calendar chimed in, and prior commitments cleared their collective throats.

Follow Through. Despite the clamor of demands competing for my ADD attention (I used to be ADHD but the "H" is long gone), I decided to start a list. I prioritized the prior commitments and shoehorned in some Follow Through. Voila! I had a means of moving ahead with my retreat experience. The
Follow Through is completing the items on the list while prioritizing the flood of new, urgent demands as they pop up like an everlasting game of Whack-A-Mole.

At this point I can say I've crossed off ONE item on my
Follow Through list. I am writing this to make myself accountable to you, the blog follower.

More to follow.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I went to the Southwest Writers Studio in Glorieta, New Mexico, this past week. After several years of setbacks in my writing and personal life I had withdrawn from writing in all but saying it out loud. I went to the Studio hoping for a jump start to this stalled career. Yow. After an amazing week, I'm charged and moving. On the drive home today I listened to Nicole Nordeman's "BRAVE" and decided it was the theme song for my fresh start. I hope you'll listen to it and find a blessing, too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Afghanistan. Iraq. For Americans, these are not countries, they are wars. Wars that have dragged on for ten interminable years. Once again we are a nation where every neighborhood feels the separation, pain, and catastrophic loss that follows in the wake of war.

Men and women engaged in combat face daily horrors. Their families at home face the multiplied horror of their imaginations. Mothers, sons, fathers, and siblings that wait daily, hourly, for word of their loved ones on the battle line. Families that wait hoping for words from their silent warriors in a military hospital or even safe at home. Safe, yet wounded in spirit.

In "FACING FEAR: Winning the War at Home" Edie Melson has spoken for those families and their warriors. Through a host of family experiences, Edie touches our hearts with the knowledge that we are not alone. Our fears are not shameful, Our hopes need not be abandoned. Our families remain.

"FACING FEAR" will go on sale 11-11-11, Veterans Day 2011


R.P. Nettelhorst has followed up on last year's "A Year With God." In "A Year With Jesus" you will find devotional insights that are scholarly and biblical, yet still applicable to the average person's daily life.

Nettelhorst is able to plumb the scholarly depths and bring treasures to the surface for us ordinary mortals to enjoy. Your reading diet is lacking essential vitamins of you pass up his work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


I have made my way to Glorieta, New Mexico this week for the Southwest Christian Writers Studio. Not a massive, top-heavy, cattle-car conference, the SWCWS is quite intimate. Some might see a smaller conference as a bad thing. Not so. This conference is person-to-person, hands on brilliance.

I don't have to stand in line to talk to one of the well-qualified staff. I sit down with them at meals, walking across campus or in the coffee shop. The classes are small enough to encourage interaction and the seminars are down to earth and applicable to the every-day writer, every day.

For those of you who have not yet attended a conference, I highly recommend them. Not only do you learn inside tips and facts about the publishing world, but you meet WRITERS. Established writers, novices, and in-betweeners are here. You will talk to publishers, agents and editors in a casual, friendly, setting. The networking you accomplish is more than worth the cost of the conference and travel. You are starving your writing career if you ignore the conferences.

It's pretty exhausting, running around at 7,500 feet, but well worth the effort.